Trump nominates former Ford exec as deputy secretary of state

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News

President Donald Trump has nominated a former Ford Motor Co. executive to the post of deputy secretary of state, one of three Michiganians tapped during the past week. 

Stephen Biegun currently serves as special representative directing U.S. policy on North Korea, according to a White House press release. If his nomination is approved by the Senate, Biegun would become the second highest-ranking official in the State Department and serve as the main adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

President Donald Trump has nominated Stephen Biegun, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, as deputy secretary of state.

Biegun was involved in negotiations that led to historic meetings between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He would replace John Sullivan, who has been nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia.

Biegun was Ford's vice president of international government affairs before joining the U.S. Department of State in 2018. At the car giant, Biegun led global trade strategy and international risk assessment with a staff of 80 in 20 countries. 

Prior to Ford, Biegun spent 20 years serving in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, including as national security adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee.

In remarks during his appointment last year, Biegun said he was eager to be the top envoy to North Korea.

"The issues are tough, and they will be tough to resolve, but the president has created an opening and it’s one that we must take by seizing every possible opportunity to realize the vision for a peaceful future for the people of North Korea," he said in August 2018.   

Trump also nominated two others from Michigan to administrative positions. 

Bella Hounakey was tapped to serve a two-year term on the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, according to a White House release. Hounakey has worked for Bethany Christian Services in west Michigan, according to her LinkedIn page, and wrote a letter to the editor in 2019 to the Kalamazoo Gazette about being a victim of human trafficking.

Patrick James Wright was nominated to the Federal Services Impasses Panel, which resolves deadlocked labor talks between federal agencies and unions representing federal employees, to a term expiring in January 2024. Wright is vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Midland-based, free-market think tank.